FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas baseball team returned to the field Friday for the first of 45 fall practice days as the Razorbacks prepare for the 2015 season.
Arkansas put the brand new Rawlings flat-seemed baseballs to use that were voted in by the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee for the 2015 season.
“The new balls made a big difference and you could really see it during batting practice,” said head coach Dave Van Horn, who spent the summer at the helm of the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. “I know the first few rounds our outfielders had to go back on a lot of balls that they thought they had tracked down. It’s definitely going to help.”
While the Razorbacks practiced Friday at the newly resurfaced George Cole Field at Baum Stadium, the squad will also spend time this fall in the brand new state of the art indoor facility that was completed earlier this summer. The 52,000 square foot climate-controlled practice space includes a full size turf infield, throwing area and batting cages, which rivals the best collegiate indoor facilities in the country.
Arkansas returns plenty of talent from the 2014 team, including six position starters and eight pitchers. Redshirt junior Tyler Spoon anchors an outfield that returns all three starters from a year ago, including senior Joe Serrano and sophomore Andrew Benintendi, who earned SEC All-Freshman honors last season.
Coming off the second lowest earned run average in program history in 2014, pitching coach Dave Jorn returns his Friday night starter in Trey Killian, who recorded a 2.30 ERA and added an SEC-leading four complete games before being added to the USA Collegiate National Team and making four appearances for the Red, White and Blue.
The backside of the bullpen returns right-hander Jacob Stone, who posted a 4-0 record and 0.94 ERA in 24 relief appearances. He became the late-season closer and finished the year with four saves, including three in postseason play.
The pitching staff tossed 10 shutouts last year, becoming just the second team in program history to reach double-digit shutouts in a season.
The Razorbacks continue to be one of the most consistent baseball programs in the nation, advancing to their 13th straight NCAA Tournament in 2014 and 27th overall. Arkansas is one of just seven teams in the country to advance to the NCAA Tournament each of the last 13 years.
The fall season culminates with the annual Red-White series. Dates and game times for the series will be announced at a later date.
For more information on Arkansas baseball, follow @RazorbackBSB on Twitter.